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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

In October a federal tax court allowed a woman in Milton, Florida, to deduct travel expenses to and from her job as a blood-bank donor. The IRS has long considered such travel nondeductible, but the court agreed with the woman that such travel was the only way to get her profit-making product to market. However, the court disallowed her a "mineral depletion allowance" for the minerals in her blood, finding that Congress intended to limit deductions to mining activities.

Appliance Wars

Police in Dryden, Michigan, report that in July a man frustrated at finding a pay phone out of order walked to his truck to retrieve a gun and fired "four or five" shots into the receiver before driving off. Last June in Rock Island, Illinois, James Steward, 29, was accused by police of threatening two relatives at gunpoint in their home, shooting their TV set, and fleeing.

Weird Enthusiasms

Somrit Lawter, 32, was shot by police in Mesquite, Texas, in November because they suspected she was carrying a bomb. She was dressed in a homemade suit consisting of metal hinges and wire and headgear made of a bucket and goggles with just a tiny opening to see through. She had aroused suspicion earlier by entering a bank and asking to open a checking account, then suddenly dashing away.

In December a 27-year-old man in critical condition was taken to a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, after police found him nude and unconscious under a balcony with four oranges and a partially eaten apple lying underneath him. Police speculated he fell trying to juggle the oranges while eating the apple.

In December a 28-year-old pedestrian in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan, ran into the side of a slowly moving van. An ambulance carried him away, but when it arrived at the hospital, he bolted from the vehicle and fled.

When Mrs. Aurora Schuck died in November in Indiana, her husband Ray, per her request, purchased 14 contiguous cemetery plots so that her coffin could be buried in the backseat of a red 1976 Cadillac convertible.

Lloyd Middleton, a lieutenant in the Miami fire department, was charged last summer with shoplifting a can of tuna fish. When a security guard stopped him, Middleton had $5,000 in cash on him.

Things You Thought Didn't Happen

Pope John Paul II recently sent six additional exorcists to Turin, Italy, because of increased reports of demonic possession. Turin is thought to house 40,000 devil worshipers. Church officials believe that 99.5 percent of exorcism requests are from mentally ill people but that the other half-percent of requesters are actually possessed.

A 15-year-old bicyclist escaped injury in San Luis Obispo, California, in December when bystanders leapt to his rescue after he was lassoed around the neck by a teenage boy in a truck.

On Halloween day, K mart employee Jeff Sablom was taking a break in the back of the store in Tallahassee, Florida, to try on the Batman costume he had planned to wear that night when a security guard asked for his help to apprehend a shoplifter. Said the guard later, "You should have seen that man's eyes when he looked back and saw Batman chasing him." Sablom recovered four cartons of cigarettes and two videocassettes.

In December near Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, Amish buggy driver Isaiah Glick, 52, was cited for making an illegal left turn into the path of a car. His horse crashed through the windshield, demolishing the car, and had to be destroyed.

Dr. Giovanni Cutaia's surgical team completed an appendectomy in December in Catania, Sicily, without Cutaia's help. Cutaia wasn't able to finish up because surgeon Vincenzo Parisi had charged into the room mid-operation, shot Cutaia to death, and wounded Parisi's girlfriend, a member of the team, because he thought she and Cutaia were having an affair.

In separate incidents in October, two cars on rural roads near Gainesville, Florida, were damaged when they collided with water buffalo.

In a survey of female prostitutes for a January article on AIDS in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the median number of sexual partners reported was 2,900, with answers ranging from 5 to "93,740."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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